Revitalizing Spring Yoga Flow: 8 Poses for Balancing Kapha
Like tiny green shoots, we emerge from the dark period of winter and return to the budding of new life in spring. As the days become longer, we have the opportunity to restore ourselves physically and energetically. The following sequence incorporates poses to wring out any stagnancy from winter to make room for new growth. Seated poses can be done in a chair or on the floor, sitting on a cushion or the edge of a folded blanket for additional support.
Seated Three-Part Breath (Dirgha Pranayama)
Three-Part Breath will help calm your mind, reduce anxiety, and encourage fresh oxygen to flow through your body to leave you feeling cleansed and detoxified.
Sit comfortably with a straight and strong spine. Close your eyes and place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart. Take a deep and slow inhale through your nose and feel your belly grow outward, your ribcage expand and your chest rise. Exhale slowly through your nose feeling your belly and ribcage slowly contract and your chest release. Continue to move through this three-part breath maintaining awareness to each breath for a cycle of five deep breaths.
Set an intention for yourself as you enter this new season: What are you bringing back to life? How do you intend to welcome the light back in? Remain here for 6-10 breaths.
Seated Spinal Twist (Parivrtta Sukhasana)
Twists are detoxifying and cleansing to your inner organs and lymphatic system.
Next, on an inhale, float both arms up to shoulder height, palms facing downward. As you exhale, turn your head and torso to the right, bringing your left hand to the right upper chest and right hand to the chair (or floor). Inhale back to center with arms lifted. Then exhale to the left, bringing the right hand to the left upper chest. Repeat two to four more times to each side, staying for 3-5 breaths on the last repetition.
Half Sun Salutation (Ardha Surya Namaskar)
Sun salutations are a series of poses that connect your breath to your movement. Sun salutations are a great way to heat up the body and encourage renewed movement. These movements are energetic and enlivening.
Come to stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet about hip-distance apart. Root down through all four corners of both feet, being mindful that your weight is distributed evenly. Engage your thigh muscles and draw your lower abdominals in. Release your shoulders away from your ears. Lengthen your neck and the crown of your head toward the sky.
Next, on an inhale, reach both arms up to the sky gently lifting your gaze. As you exhale, float your arms open as you turn your torso to the right. Inhale to center and exhale as you turn to the left, arms open wide.
Then, bringing hands together in prayer, exhale your hands downward, hinging forward at your hips, and releasing your hands to the seat of a chair, the shins or the floor. Pause here, releasing tension in the neck and allowing the head to hang.
With the next inhale, place your hands on your shins as you draw the crown of your head toward and lengthen your spine. Exhale to fold forward again, hands resting on shins or the floor.
Engage your abs and lengthen your spine on your next inhale. Slowly rise up to standing, reaching both arms to the sky. Then on an exhale draw the palms together and to the heart center.
Repeat this flow three more times. When finished, pause in Mountain pose with hands at heart center. Close the eyes or soften your gaze and take a few deep breaths before continuing.
Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Lunges are powerful and energetic poses that combine balancing, back bending, and heart opening—three beneficial movements to help you feel light and rejuvenated. They are especially strengthening for your legs and core muscles.
From Mountain Pose, step your left foot 3-4 feet toward the back of the mat. Take a deep bend in the right knee keeping the back heel lifted so you’re on the ball of the left foot. As you inhale, reach both arms up toward the sky. Gaze forward or up at your hands. Hold here for 4-6 breaths. Then, lower your arms and step the left foot forward to meet the right. Pause for a breath in Mountain before repeating on the other side.
Warrior 2 – Reverse Warrior (Virabhadrasana)
Warrior poses develop strength in the legs, stretch the intercostal muscles, encourage deeper breathing, and build heat to help burn off accumulated toxins.
Step your feet about 3-4 feet apart with toes facing forward. Turn your right foot about 90 degrees and your left toes in slightly. Bend the right knee so it is directly in line with your right ankle. Next, lengthen both arms from the shoulders, palms face down. Feel the line of energy running from the tips of the fingers on the left hand to the tips of the fingers on the right hand. Stay here for 4-6 full breaths.
Next, turn your right palm upward. On an inhale, reach your right arm overhead as your left hand comes to rest on the back of the left thigh. Breathe into the right side of your torso for 3-5 breaths.
To come out of the pose, inhale back to Warrior II. Lower both arms to your sides and straighten your right knee, bringing both feet parallel. Pause and notice how you feel for 1-2 breaths. Then repeat both poses on the left.
Upward-Facing Plank (Purvottanasana)
This seated backbend strengthens the arms, shoulders and upper back. As with all backbends, it encourages heart opening and is energizing and revitalizing to the entire body. It also stimulates your abdominal organs and help improve digestion and reduce fatigue.
Start by sitting on the front edge of a sturdy chair. Place your hands to the back edge of the chair so that the backs of your arms can lean slightly against the chair’s back support. If seated on the floor, extend both legs forward into Staff Pose (Dandasana) with the hands on the floor behind you.
Next, push down into your hands on an exhale to lift your chest. Keep extending both legs straight and pointing the toes. Look up towards the sky and, if able, lift your pelvis. Stay for 3-4 breaths. Alternatively, come in and out of the pose 3-4 times as you build upper body strength.
Seated Forward Fold (Pashmottanasana)
Forward folds help stimulate the kidneys, liver, and bladder. They also aid in digestion, leaving you feeling detoxified and fresh.
Root both of your sit bones into the chair (or mat) and sit upright with a long spine. Reach both arms forward and up towards the sky. Then as you exhale, hinge at the hips to fold over your legs. Hands can rest on your thighs, shins, ankles, or feet.
Draw the heart forward to elongate the spine. If you’re feeling any low back discomfort, keep your hands on your thighs. Then, on your next exhale, soften your torso towards your thighs and relaxing the head and neck.
Stay here for 4-5 breaths, allowing this posture to provide a healing touch to the abdominal organs. Finally, engage the low belly and lengthen the spine as you inhale back to an upright seat.
Releases physical and mental tension, improves immunity, and allows your body to integrate your yoga practice. You can also practice savasana seated in a chair.
To complete the practice, lie down on the floor or a bed, arms and legs long. Relax your body, close your eyes, and observe your breath. Notice your breath becoming slower and softer. Let your thoughts and worries exit on every exhalation, and begin to enjoy the silence and stillness of your mind. Allow yourself to go into a state of relaxation while maintaining consciousness. Stay here for 5-10 minutes.
Coming into a comfortable seat, close your eyes or rest them softly on a single, unmoving point. Invite your body to soften. Turn your palms face up, a gesture of receptivity and openness, resting the backs of your hands on your knees.
Spring is a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. As you stay with your steady, even breath, consider what you are welcoming in as you enter this new phase of light and life. What is the intention you are setting for yourself at this time of budding energy and existence? Try to capture your Spring intention in a single word, like “joy” or “abundance.” On each inhale, internally and silently, say to yourself, “I am (your intention).” On each exhale, allow your intention to radiate through your body, mind and spirit. When the mind wanders, simply return to this repetition. Continue this meditation for 2-5 minutes.
To complete the practice, allow the repetition to slowly subside. Remain still for a few moments, allowing your breath to deepen, and slowly open your eyes. Happy practicing!